Returning to My Mother’s Land 2

December 28IMG_1232

OK, so this is what I’ve learned. I am becoming more comfortable each day…Everyone is super nice but also super cautious and suspicious of outsiders…especially outsiders with cameras…yesterday, at particular times, was a difficult day for me…because of the language barrier I felt out of place at the beginning of a gathering at a Sierra Leoneans house. I’m happy to say that by the time I left, I was happy and glad I went. It turned out to be a great gathering, lots of fun, music, dancing and food. Everyone was really nice and accommodating … as usual.

December 29IMG_1262

Today I went to Kadias memorial event that she gave for her late-parents…it was nice and I received the blessings of a group of Muslim men towards my work of education and enlightenment. Kadia’s parents were Muslim. The men were kind, loving and prayerful. IMG_1205IMG_1210

IMG_1121Once again, it was hard to communicate because I didn’t speak Krio. I’m beginning to understand more of it though, each day. It’s like broken English with a bit of African and French, kind of. And as I walked into the compound I noticed all of the beautiful women of all ages lined up, sitting in chairs and preparing the food for the event in HUGE kettles! Everything by fire, wood, and 3 stones. And these women were STRONG! They had to carry and stir everything! And then serve it! And the food was served in a distinct order. Elderly, redeemed, family, friends and guests…then…local neighbors who stopped by to pay their respects or simply get something to eat.


Did I mention that rice is a part of EVERY dish! Can you say carbs and blood-sugar levels??!! Lolol…The good news is that by the time you carry a huge container of water (make that 2 jugs) to the bathroom and back…you’ve lost a few inches, a few tubes of water, and hopefully a few pounds while gaining some beautiful muscle tissue. I keep looking for the change every day and I do think my waist has gotten a bit smaller…but then again, you know how I trip! Lolol…

IMG_1222The other thing that I learned was some Krio! Much like the culture in Sierra Leone, the women take you under their wing and teach you what is appropriate, even language. They train and train and train you…right there on the spot. “”What tin nay you name?” Me name Janice. “How dee body?” Me body fine. Tankey tankey. Over and over and over. Then they started to quiz me. Especially this awesome young lady who was sitting next to me. She said, “from now on, while you are here in Sierra Leone, you will speak our language, Krio.” Done. The order was given. Then EVERYONE else started chiming in. Six seats down! “Hey, What tin nay you name?” Me name Janice.” “How dee body?” Me body fine. It was a lot of fun and all of a sudden, the women were laughing and playing with me and embracing me into their protected circle. I felt the love… Smiling.

IMG_1227Another order. As I was leaning over onto a small barrier wall I was asked, “are you tired? Here! Sit down!” No, I’m not tired. “Then stand up straight!” huh? “Stand up straight!” I stood up straighter, naturally, but I was a bit bewildered at the orders that were being given to me. AGAIN! By someone new. “Do you need a nap?” No, I replied. “Then stand up straight or sit down in the chair. You are Sierra Leonean. Stand up!” In other words, she was telling me to not slouch and stand or sit wherever I’d like but do so like “you have some sense” like my mother would say, or like you are a proper lady, like Sierra Leonean women would say. Smiling. The free lessons continued. I have been attempting  to speak Krio as much as possible whenever possible and I am doing an “ok” job. I’m doing a GREAT job with feeling awkward and stupid when doing so….but my listeners and teachers are always there with a smile and correction.

IMG_1099What I also discovered was that it appears that most of the Africans and most of the Sierra Leoneans have no idea about the magnitude and residual effects slavery has had on African Americans. None! Therefore, they are puzzled, bewildered, and shocked when they hear about it…what happened…etc…because of this new information, I will have to adjust my questions and angle. I thought they were well educated on the slave trade and the atrocities that took place but they are not, at all. Because, they too, were colonized, this subject was not spoken of in-depth for long periods of time during their education. When I did tell them of the Slave Narratives, etc…when they heard some of the history…they were really sad. I have captured some audio of different conversations and some video that you will see later.

December 30IMG_1316

It’s another busy but wonderful day! I just met with Socco and Obai and they are wonderful! The are the sons of the late Ella Koblo Gulama, a female Chieftess and First elected woman of parliament! When I was speaking to them I had an emotional moment which I will speak about more later. It was a moment that African Americans have dreamed about, wondered about in the middle of the night, or in the middle of a racial confrontation, or in the middle of a simple thought. “Did you know what was going to happen to us when we left on slave ships?” “Why didn’t you come and rescue us?” “Did you sell us or give us away?” Did you think about us?” This happened in the midst of me closing everything down. Their response was cathartic, healing…””they said that they didn’t know.” More later.

IMG_1318They embraced me and I let the tears of “knowing” flow. Want to know something really cool? I have had other emotional moments and what I have begun to notice is that the more I allow myself to feel and cry, the closer I feel I am moving past the slavery aspect of my American history. There is soooo much more to the African American that while you cannot forget slavery…you can move on from mental, psychological and spiritual captivity. At least this is my prayer and hope.

IMG_1067I am TRULY beginning to feel AFRICAN-AMERICAN in a more beautiful, positive, fulfilling, and complete way!  ON BOTH sides! Proud to be an AMERICAN and proud to be of African descent. I’m PROUD to call myself an African American at this moment…someone who has made it from a group of people, who, despite the odds, survived the struggle! Amazing! I am now feeling that I am an African American, a survivor, with a purpose of a different magnitude. I am a well-educated, free, law-abiding, God-loving African American, who can share what I have learned from being an American with the world, with Africa! From the brave souls and spirits of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the bows of the Amistad and Singhue Peir, I am happy and proud to be an African-American,,, with a great history combined of two worlds. Brava! Yes!

Oh! By the way…I’ll leave you with this thought. Imagine eating a quart of REAL ice cream, mix in some milk, add any kind of greens, now add a whole jar of hot peppers. That’s what is going on in my stomach right about now. Can you say LONG night???!!! AND it’s hot and HUMID?!! Can you say Janice don’t trip? lololol…seriously, the “Cray, Cray was delicious, as was the day.” Hopefully you’ll get to experience all of this one day as well. The rumblings of the night with Cray Cray and all! lolol. Good night.

Published in: on December 31, 2013 at 6:05 AM  Comments (11)  
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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Beautiful, can’t wait for the documentary…..

  2. Janice,

    WOW…I really don’t know where to start. I am so glad to know such an amazing person. You work tirelessly to give us the knowledge that we all need. I look forward to hearing, reading, seeing, and one day possibly experiencing connecting with my African heritage as well. Enjoy. The last 3 days we have been in severe weather conditions (-15 outside with wind chill -35) Today it should be better. (10 degrees…lol) miss you and can’t wait for your return.


    • Wow! is right! For such awesome comments! Thank you! I look forward to presenting the documentary!
      thank you for following and thank you for your support!

  3. Wow ! Thank you for sharing this life changing experience. The photos are gorgeous but its your writing that touches my spirit. BRAVO Janice ! I find myself anxious for your next blog to share in your journey.

    • Hi Heather,
      Thank you for following me and for your comments. I pray that you are well. Smiling…so you like my writing? Great! Thank you. I’m thinking about putting this into a book as well as the documentary that I am working on. I’d like to connect this blog to The Roots website. What do you think? Perhaps you could see how this can be done while I’m in SL. No worries if not. You know how I love to pick your brain…smiling..Please continue to enjoy…and take great care, Heather.

  4. More more more! I’m waiting. On Dec 30, 2013 7:05 PM, “Theoretical Tea and Company” wrote:

    > theoretical tea and company posted: “December 28 OK, so this is what > Ive learned. I am becoming more comfortable each dayEveryone is super > nice but also super cautious and suspicious of outsidersespecially > outsiders with camerasyesterday, at particular times, was a difficult day > for m”

  5. Janice, I am so very proud of you and your tenacity to venture into such a meaningful past that will shape your life and give new meaning to who you are and give real substance to what is really important in life. You are being introduced to the true “Village”. Enjoy, record and absorb every minute.
    Aunt Barbara

    • Hi Aunt Barbara!
      Thank you so much for reading and following and for the advice. I am taking in as much as I can. I love how you summarized my experience…smiling….I may have to use it…smiling…may I? I hope you’re well and I look forward to speaking with you when I return. We must do better in scheduling conversations. I love them so.
      Take care,

  6. And, we are so proud to know you and to know you survived this struggle. We are proud of you, our African-American sister.

    • My Dear Sister and Friend Susan AND Marlaine! smiling…thank you so much for following and commenting. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience and I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity. It is awesome! I can’t wait to get back and tell everyone about it. I’m thinking about having a AL return Party when the weather permits! All my best to you and Marlaine.

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